WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) led a total of 57 Democratic and Republican Representatives on a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging the CDC to lift its blanket suspension of canine imports from 113 countries, which was implemented in July.
In the letter, Members write: "Every dog deserves a loving home, and U.S. shelters alone cannot meet every American’s desire to adopt a rescue dog. By opening their hearts and homes to adopted dogs from other countries, they save a dog’s life and gain a loving pet."
The Members ask that the CDC work to modernize the dog importation system in a way that protects public health while also allowing responsible and reputable pet rescuers to continue operating and allowing international pet adoptions to resume.
"The ban on the importation of dogs into the United States from over 100 countries threatens the welfare of would-be adopted dogs who are subjected to horrific, inhumane conditions in foreign countries,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. "If international pet rescue organizations are unable to resume their work, the future for the majority of these vulnerable and abandoned animals is grim. I am committed to working with my bipartisan colleagues and the CDC to find alternate solutions to safely and efficiently import rescue dogs into the United States so that they have a chance at a better life and an opportunity to find a forever home."
"The CDC ban does not recognize the complexities of international dog rescue transport," Rep. Deutch said. "We can protect public health while allowing rescue groups to continue their work. American families should be able to save animals from abroad, as long as we guarantee they do not carry any diseases that pose a threat to those families or to their other furry friends."
The letter was supported by: Bunny's Buddies, Animal Wellness Action, The Center for a Humane Economy, and The Animal Wellness Foundation.
“This strong bipartisan appeal for the CDC to rescind its policy to ban dog imports from 113 countries is just the latest indicator that Congress is fed up with the agency on this issue,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “We applaud Reps. Deutch and Fitzpatrick and every Member of Congress who joined in recognizing that our military heroes, diplomats, and other citizens overseas should not be forced to separate from their pets and break their bonds.”
“The entire Bunny's Buddies community is so grateful to see so many animal lovers come together to fight for what these dogs deserve! There are so many great rescue groups that want to do the right thing, by both local and international rescues, and this letter from Congressmen Deutch and Fitzpatrick gives us all some real hope! We are celebrating this big win and will continue to fight for reputable group's right to import these dogs,” said Amanda Jo, Founder of Bunny’s Buddies.
“This decision, made without consultation with stakeholders, has caused chaos, financial hardship, and emotional turmoil for members of our military, foreign service, U.S. citizens, and charities,” said Jennifer Skiff, director of international programs at Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. “Those affected have spoken and Congress is now acting, for a second time. We thank them and request the CDC act expeditiously to get dogs home.”
The letter was signed by: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, Ted Deutch, Colin Allred, Cindy Axne, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Gus M. Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Earl L. "Buddy" Carter, Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, Charlie Crist, Jason Crow, Rodney Davis, Madeleine Dean, Peter DeFazio, Michael Doyle, Andrew Garbarino, Sylvia R. Garcia, Carlos A. Gimenez, Lance Gooden, Raúl M. Grijalva, Diana Harshbarger, Chris Jacobs, Sara Jacobs, John Katko, Al Lawson, Andy Levin, Ted Lieu, Alan Lowenthal, Nancy Mace, Nicole Malliotakis, Lucy McBath, Lisa M. McClain, Peter Meijer, Barry Moore, Stephanie Murphy, Frank Mrvan, Joe Neguse, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Scott Peters, David Price, Jamie Raskin, Kathleen M. Rice, Deborah Ross, Lucille Royal-Allard, Maria Elvira Salazar, Jan Schakowsky, Elissa Slotkin, Darren Soto, Haley Stevens, Thomas R. Suozzi, Claudia Tenney, Dina Titus, Fred Upton, Michael Waltz, Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Frederica S. Wilson.
Full text of the letter is below.
Dear Director Walensky,
We write in reference to the CDC’s ban on the importation of dogs into the United States from 113 countries, which took effect on July 14, 2021.
The CDC put this ban in place because of heightened concern about the prevalence of rabies among foreign dog populations, which could be reintroduced into the United States through adoption. Canine rabies has been eradicated in the United States since 2007, and we share the CDC’s goal of ensuring this remains the case.
The ban’s broad scope, however, causes us great concern as it treats 113 countries with a one-size-fits-all approach. This ban will have extensive impact including dogs that accompanied their U.S.-based families as they moved back to the United States, and K9 companions of U.S. service members stationed abroad. All of these people complied with strict U.S. health and vaccination regulations to keep canine rabies out of the country.
Every dog deserves a loving home, and U.S. shelters alone cannot meet every American’s desire to adopt a rescue dog. Many Americans choose to adopt pets from overseas, saving them from grim lives in captivity or from painful deaths. By opening their hearts and homes to adopted dogs from other countries, they save a dog’s life and gain a loving pet.
The CDC’s ban prevents thousands of dogs from 113 countries being rescued and adopted into loving and safe homes. China is one of those countries that we will use as an example. It is a country that fails to enforce laws against the consumption of dog meat and does little to halt particularly inhumane means of killing dogs at annual Yulin “dog meat” festivals. This dog abuse at the festival, which has received a great deal of media attention, is one that has stirred many American humanitarians to work with charities that rescue, vet, vaccinate, and sterilize dogs there. According to your agency, not a single dog originating from the People’s Republic of China, and imported into the U.S., has been diagnosed with rabies in the past decade.
We believe that dogs destined for American adoption can be safely imported by requiring confirmation of rabies vaccination by a licensed veterinarian in the country of origin, followed by rabies serology testing at least 30 days post-vaccination.
We ask you to recognize the need to modernize the government’s dog import process in a way that allows reputable U.S. based animal charities to continue their life-saving missions. We believe that the CDC can and should establish a process that allows adoptions to resume. This process might include a country-by-country risk-based analysis, proof of rabies vaccination, pre-departure rabies serology testing, and development of a secure and fraud-resistant “pet passport”.
We urge the CDC to work with stakeholders to create a solution that protects public health but also allows responsible members of the pet rescue community to continue their work. The U.S. House recently passed an amendment to provide CDC with $3 million for a more rigorous screening program for dogs about to enter the U.S. That is a far more discerning and sensible approach than a categorical ban of dog imports from more than 100 nations.
We thank you for working with us to ensure rescue organizations are able continue their work to help dogs find loving homes with American families by reevaluating the current ban.
Members of Congress